State Representative Nick Collins (D-South Boston) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing legislation to ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in the payment of wages for comparable work unless the variation is based upon a mitigating factor including seniority (provided that paternal, family, and medical leave don’t reduce seniority); a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue; education, training or experience.
“I am proud to have been a part of this landmark legislation” said Rep. Collins. “There is no reason why my any woman should be paid less for equal work. It is about time we set clear guidelines for comparable work, and do away with the gender wage gap so that Massachusetts can remain an economic leader, as well as a leader in equality.”
Notably, the bill would prevents employers from requesting salary history in hiring, a measure designed to end the self-perpetuating cycle of wage disparity. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to adopt such a provision. However, prospective employees would not be barred from voluntarily disclosing their past salaries.
In drafting this bill, the House of Representatives focused on building consensus to ensure that the legislation would be workable, effective and sustainable. Key to those efforts were defining “comparable work” and maintaining flexibility for performance-based compensation. The bill incentivizes companies to correct compensation disparities internally before going to court by creating three-year affirmative defense from liability. Within that time period employers must complete a self-evaluation of its pay practices and demonstrate reasonable progress in eliminating pay disparities.
The legislation will take effect of July 1, 2018